Major Improvements to the Finance Systems for August 2014
- improve reporting capability
- improve system response times
- add new functionality to support foreign currency transactions, electronic invoice capture, and fixed assets management
- improve the processes for giving people appropriate access to the system
- improve the training and documentation
- ensure the system remains fully supported by our suppliers, Oracle
Oracle support runs out in 2013
suite r11.5.10 is the software FIS runs in and it will not be supported by Oracle after 2013. Now that Abacus is to go live in August 2014 the current software will be running out of support for a while. This is not something UCL users need to have concerns about, but it means the technical teams - who are now working on Abacus - have new priorities.
Chart of Accounts doesn't work
The Chart of Accounts determines how we categorise each financial transaction and therefore how we are able to collate the information into meaningful reports for statutory reporting, financial management and monitoring, and decision support.
Our current chart of accounts makes it both difficult to capture the data accurately and impossible to report effectively. A proliferation of analysis codes results in too many transactions categorised under the “general” code. Multiple codes are required in cases where one should suffice. Cross departmental reporting for collaborative working is not supported. Some financial transactions are recorded outside FIS. As a result, manual manipulation is required to prepare meaningful reports which should be available directly from the FIS system.
System performance is "sub-optimal"
FIS is frustratingly slow.
Revise the Chart of Accounts
A new Chart of Accounts will be designed to be simple, controlled, elegant, easy to use, future proofed and extendable. The design will support our reporting requirements and improve the ease and accuracy at transaction capture.
The number of General Ledger accounts will be reduced and the majority of activity will be moved to the Projects Ledger. The system functionality provided for Projects is generally preferred over the General Ledger functionality. For many people this will provide a single way of interacting with the system.
Departments will own (and trust) the data, finance will act as custodians (making sure that what happens with the data will be consistent with the design) and ISD will ensure the integrity of the systems and processes.
Review and Improve Reporting
Meaningful reports for statutory reporting, financial management and monitoring, and decision support at all levels should be possible directly from the finance system on demand. Single budget holders, departments, faculties, divisions, and central finance should all be able to produce the reports they require from the FIS system without the need to download to excel and manipulate or enhance the data.
This project will establish a new chart of accounts to capture the financial data in a way that supports the reporting needs. A separate reporting project will be established to decide on the most appropriate tool for reporting and produce the actual reports.
In addition to standard pre-set reports, the reporting project will also aim to provide a drill down capability to details of actuals and commitments and the ability to query the data for ad-hoc questions such as “who are our 10 biggest donors?”.
Upgrade FIS System
Upgrade to the latest version of Oracle E-business Suite, r12.
Over the years we have custom-built additions to the basic FIS system which must be checked and revised each time the system is upgraded. The current 30 customisations will be reviewed in light of the new functionality provided by the upgrade with the aim of eliminating as many as possible to reduce ongoing administrative overheads and upgrade complexity.
Add New Functionality
- Foreign currency payments including raising POs in the invoice currency
- Scanning of invoices
- User access through web-based forms and automatic access based on job roles
- Fixed asset management
Improve Training Provision
Training will be completely revamped to create a comprehensive set of training based on financial services rather than the system functions. The aim of the training will be to develop the capability for all staff to accurately and effectively perform their roles using the FIS system. An on-going programme of induction and refresher training will be established to ensure a high level of capability is maintained after the project completes.
Improve System Performance
Technical improvements will be made to change the system from “sluggish” to “snappy” and provide scalability for aspirational growth.
Chart of Accounts Design
Finance are working to develop a new chart of accounts, assessing what reporting possibilities it will deliver, solving some of the issues raised in workshops held last summer, and mindful of the current reporting requirements for research grants, HEFCE, HESA, and HMRC.
Other HEIs with similar profiles to UCL have been consulted, providing useful insights into what works in practice and what does not.
Getting the Team Mobilised
Project Manager, Mike Haward is in place.
The Project Board is meeting monthly. Phil Harding has taken over as the Project Executive.
The project team have moved into offices in the basement of the Wilkins Building B41-49 (map & directions). Recruitment continues to provide backfill for additional team members who will start as soon as possible.
Starting to Engage with Users
Nicola Arnold, Director, Financial Control & Analysis is delivering a series of presentations to raise awareness of the project.
To arrange for Nicola to present at a local staff or group meeting, email email@example.com
More detailed presentations explaining the impact of the changes and the timeline for activities are being planned by Lee Jenner, Change and Communications Manager. Contact Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest in a presentation.
See the UCL staff pages for more information.
If you have any questions about the project, email email@example.com.
(last updated 6 September 2012)
Engage with the Team
- Be the point of contact with your own department/division for the programme.
- Communicate programme progress on a monthly basis using the web page to check updates.
- Assist the Programme Manager and Change Manager in organising communications events in the formal communications programme during the summer of 2013.
- Participate in the communications events and any follow-up activities
- Determine the extend of changes for staff if you are responsible for processes. Changes to ways of working will be defined in December 2013.
- Send your thoughts and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will be asked to review the information in the system and remove obsolete and incorrect data before the cutover. Please take the time to do this as thoroughly as possible so that we do not transfer it to the upgraded system.
Before the changes are introduced, we'll need a variety of people
checking all the aspects of the system. Although it will require time and
effort from you, it is also an opportunity to help us get it right and to
really learn how it works for yourself.
Work with the Programme Training Manager email@example.com to:
- identify users within your areas who need to attend training courses
- ensure staff book onto the training courses once they are scheduled
- review the feedback from users and arrange any repeat training
- promote the use of the practice environment
Foreign Currency went live on 14th January 2013. More details.
Regular meetings are being held with Stakeholders in Central Finance.
Key dates and objectives have been presented to the Finance User Group and ISD Application Services team.
Page last modified on 24 apr 13 11:17